October 10, 2006
Encouragement for Today
“Finding Freedom in Forgiveness”
Micca Monda Campbell, Director of Outreach, Proverbs 31 Ministries Speaker Team Member
Ephesians 4:32 "Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you." (NLT)
After putting his wife on the flight for a visit to her parents, Ken made his way back to their car, remembering her smile. She had lingered for their final embrace.
When he reached the car, he noticed a letter. He opened it and could scarcely believe the words were real. She was leaving him! It was a note of farewell. She said she no longer loved him -- or God. Two years of marriage evaporated right before his eyes.
Memories suddenly had a double edge. Bewildered and confused, he drove to an empty home. Ken knew that he needed to forgive, as Christ would. But what did that really mean in the reality of this shocking situation?
Somehow, through the blurry reality of his hurt, God's Word became clear. "Be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you" (Ephesians 4:32, NLT).
Thankfully, that is exactly what Ken decided to do -- to obey God in spite of his terrible pain.
I wish I could report a positive ending to the story about this marriage. However, tragically, Ken's offer of forgiveness and reconciliation to his wife was spurned, and a divorce followed. The marriage was not repaired.
Reconciliation was available to Ken and his wife, but another route was chosen. Reconciliation always takes two parties, and only one was willing in Ken’s case.
Still, the choice of forgiveness is available to all. Those who choose to forgive find freedom. Those who choose to have an unforgiving spirit experience bondage. They think they are hurting the other person by holding a grudge when in fact, they are hurting themselves.
Others simply can’t forgive themselves. They suffer emotional imprisonment due to guilt over some wrong thing they did. They may even believe that God can’t forgive them of this sin. In both situations, the person held hostage by an inability to forgive doesn’t understand God’s divine pardon.
Paul tells us in the Bible that God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) That means while we were God’s enemy, doing bad things against Him, He forgave us. Those who receive God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ find no condemnation. In other words, there is nothing you can do that God won’t pardon.
Having received Christ’s forgiveness, we should do likewise and pardon others as well. Matthew explains why it’s wise to follow Christ’s example. “If you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins (
Forgiveness is for our benefit. Doing so brings freedom from guilt, sin and harbored resentment. Your situation may not change, but your heart eventually will. Peace replaces bitterness as the chains of bondage are broken through our obedience to forgive, show kindness, and strive toward reconciliation.
When you and I are faced with similar situations, whether in marriage, business, or other relationships, we should always be ready and willing to seek reconciliation. We need to forgive others as Christ forgave us.
My Prayer for Today: Dear Lord, thank you for pardoning me. Out of a grateful heart and in obedience, I choose to forgive those who have hurt me. I trust that you will work in my heart so that I may let go of the pain and be set free from the burden I carry. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
If you’re able to do so, go to the person you need to forgive and tell them you have let go of the past. No matter what their response may be, this action will help you heal.
Is there someone you need to forgive today?
What has been the benefit of holding on to your resentment?
What can you gain from being willing to forgive?
If God has forgiven you completely, then why not forgive yourself?
In Christ, there is no condemnation.
Luke 6:37, "Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.” (NIV)
Luke 17:3, “So watch yourselves. If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him.” (NIV)
Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst
An Encouraging Word, ETC Corner January 2004